University of Connecticut/Hartford Courant Poll: Key U.S. Senate Race a Dead Heat

U.S. Senate candidates’ support across Connecticut. Question: “And thinking about the U.S. Senate race in Connecticut in November, will you vote for Linda McMahon, the Republican; Chris Murphy, the Democrat; someone else; or haven’t you decided yet?” Source: Survey by the University of Connecticut/Hartford Courant of 517 likely Connecticut voters, Sept. 11-Sept. 16, 2012, statewide.

U.S. Senate candidates’ support across Connecticut, statewide.
Question: “And thinking about the U.S. Senate race in Connecticut in November, will you vote for Linda McMahon, the Republican; Chris Murphy, the Democrat; someone else; or haven’t you decided yet?”
Source: Survey by the University of Connecticut/Hartford Courant of 517 likely Connecticut voters, Sept. 11-Sept. 16, 2012.

The U.S. Senate race in Connecticut, which could determine whether the Democratic Party holds onto its narrow majority in the chamber, is a statistical dead heat with just over six weeks to go until Election Day, according to a new University of Connecticut-Hartford Courant poll released Wednesday.

The poll of likely voters gives Democratic U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy a slight edge, with 37 percent of the vote to Republican candidate Linda McMahon’s 33 percent, and 28 percent undecided. But since the margin falls within the poll’s 4 percent margin of error, it’s essentially a tie, said poll director Jennifer Dineen, a lecturer in public policy at UConn.

“Right now, this is anyone’s race,” she said. “Both candidates need to focus on that large number of undecided voters if they want to open up a lead going into the home stretch.”

The University of Connecticut-Hartford Courant Poll is a joint effort between one of the nation’s top public research universities and the oldest continuously published newspaper in America. The purpose of the poll is to provide unbiased opinion research into critical questions affecting both the state of Connecticut and the nation.

Nearly half of unaffiliated voters were still undecided, leaving that crucial vote largely up for grabs.

“It’s good news for McMahon that she’s winning over independents at that rate, but both campaigns should see it as an opportunity that one in two unaffiliated voters is still on the fence,” Dineen said.

The Murphy campaign can take some encouragement in the fact that the relatively large number of undecided Democratic voters gives him a chance to bolster his overall numbers. While just 17 percent of Republicans remain undecided, 27 percent of Democrats have not made up their minds yet.

The high number of undecided voters comes despite months of television commercials blanketing the airwaves and thousands of mailers sent to homes across the state.

“The voters seem to be waiting for either candidate to give them a definitive reason for their support on November 6,” Dineen said. “With less than 50 days to go, it looks like this election is going to be decided by which candidate does a better job of mobilizing those voters.”

U.S. Senate candidates’ support across Connecticut, by region. Question: “And thinking about the U.S. Senate race in Connecticut in November, will you vote for Linda McMahon, the Republican; Chris Murphy, the Democrat; someone else; or haven’t you decided yet?” Source: Survey by the University of Connecticut/Hartford Courant of 517 likely Connecticut voters, Sept. 11-Sept. 16, 2012.

U.S. Senate candidates’ support across Connecticut, by region.
Question: “And thinking about the U.S. Senate race in Connecticut in November, will you vote for Linda McMahon, the Republican; Chris Murphy, the Democrat; someone else; or haven’t you decided yet?”
Source: Survey by the University of Connecticut/Hartford Courant of 517 likely Connecticut voters, Sept. 11-Sept. 16, 2012.

Among the poll’s other findings:

  • No gender gap exists between the candidates. Murphy and McMahon are roughly even with female voters, standing at 38 percent and 35 percent, respectively, of the vote.
  • McMahon has a commanding lead among older voters, with nearly 49 percent of those 65 and older giving her their support, compared to Murphy’s 34 percent. Murphy has a similar edge with voters aged 50 to 64.
  • McMahon is doing well in Eastern Connecticut and Murphy is out in front in Hartford County, but the race is a dead heat in Western Connecticut.

These findings are based on the University of Connecticut/Hartford Courant Poll. The sample of 517 randomly selected Connecticut likely voters were interviewed by landline and cellular telephone between Sept. 11 and Sept. 16, 2012. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 4 percentage points.

The data have been weighted by the number of adults in a household and the number of telephone numbers, land and cellular, at which adults in the household can be reached, in order to equalize the chances of an individual adult being selected. The data have also been weighted by the sex, race, and level of education of the respondent and the region of Connecticut, based on the American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census.

For additional detail from the survey and analysis of the results, go to http://poll.uconn.edu/. To download the data, click here.